‘Don’t Jerk and Drive’ Campaign Pulled in Wake of Complaints

All too often, it seems that an ad campaign that looks like a good idea on paper fails to hold any merit in practice. The latest evidence of this theory is a South Dakota Office of Highway Safety operation to prepare road users for the harsh conditions of winter — a campaign that boasted the slogan ‘Don’t Jerk and Drive’.

You would think that such a tag line would have been vetoed immediately — however catchy its attempt at double entendre is, it’s almost certainly not appropriate for the purpose of a serious driver safety advertisement. Another billboard flatly states that ‘Jerking Isn’t a Joke’, but you wouldn’t know that from the half-suppressed giggles that are rolling through the streets of South Dakota.

The campaign has now been pulled, with Public Safety Director Trevor Jones stating to Fox News that the Department of Public Safety didn’t want innuendo ‘to pull focus for the main message of saving lives on the road.’ However, the gags were intentional — it was thought that an edgy, humorous message was a better way to grab the attention of drivers than a dry PSA.

However, it’s difficult to say just how well it came off. Obviously, the fact that the ads have been pulled would suggest that the campaign was a failure. That being said, the manner of them being withdrawn — via internet coverage that will take the message to a far wider audience than was intended — might actually spread the message of safe driving better than billboards ever could.

Or, it might just get a few laughs based on the misjudged appropriateness of juvenile humor in a PSA. While the message is getting spread around, it’s hard to deny that the South Dakota Department of Public Safety has been caught with their trousers down — and anyone who has experienced that will know how embarrassing it can be.

Brad Jones


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